Table of Contents
Welcome to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Spotlight, a quarterly newsletter for the academic community that includes important program news, seasonal reminders and updates relevant to the international student life cycle.
Keeping International Students and Schools Safe During COVID-19
The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the international student community, and the global population at large, continues to evolve on a daily basis. SEVP is committed to monitoring key developments and will provide timely and necessary updates to our stakeholders. We recognize that the COVID-19 crisis is rapidly changing. We appreciate your efforts and flexibility during this unprecedented time to help keep the international student community safe and informed.
As outlined in SEVP’s recently published guidance, we recognize that SEVP-certified schools may need to adapt their procedures and policies to address the significant public health concerns associated with COVID-19. As stated in the published guidance, any procedural changes to SEVP should be reported within 10 business days of the change. If your school plans to provide online instruction or instruction at an alternate physical location, please see COVID-19 and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M nonimmigrant students for instructions for when and how to report changes to SEVP. You can also download an optional Coronavirus School Reporting Template to help you report your changes to SEVP. Lastly, please refer to these instructions for managing student records of F and M students impacted by COVID-19.
You can also help ensure your students are able to maintain their status and travel safely by relaying the following important guidelines:
- Maintain status: It is important that F and M students maintain their nonimmigrant student status, even during emergency events. This means F and M students must continue to take all the necessary actions to remain in status, to the extent possible under the circumstances. Students should communicate with you about the emergency plans on their campus, including any changes to their address.
- Communicate with employers: Students should work with their employer to maintain practical training agreements. Changes to workplace requirements may impact nonimmigrant students engaging in practical training. SEVP encourages such students to consult with their employer to seek alternative ways to maintain training agreements, such as teleworking or other arrangements.
- Be cautious traveling: Refer to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for specific port-of-entry screening processes, as well as any travel restrictions.
For the latest guidance, resources and information for international students and schools, visit the ICE Guidance on COVID-19 page on ICE.gov. This will be the central online location for all official guidance from SEVP and FAQs. We know you may have additional questions about the impact of COVID-19 on the international life cycle. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security continues to evaluate various options and any additional guidance from SEVP will be posted to this page under the Nonimmigrant Students section. Additionally, be assured that SEVP will also communicate any COVID-19 related guidance and updates via Broadcast Messages, Study in the States blogs and social media and GovDelivery. For case-specific questions, please contact the SEVP Response Center.
As always, thanks for your continued support of SEVP and its mission to protect national and campus security.
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Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders
SEVP has been monitoring developments with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on SEVP stakeholders. Visit the SEVP Guidance on COVID-19 page on ICE.gov for the latest information and resources for F and M students as well as SEVP-certified schools. You’ll find helpful guidance for students and schools, resources from government partners and time stamped frequently asked questions. This will be the central online location for all official guidance from SEVP.
SEVP is focused on ensuring that nonimmigrant students can continue to make normal progress in a full course of study as required by federal regulations. SEVP intends to be flexible with temporary adaptations. In all cases, schools and students should document any decisions made and be able to provide this information to SEVP upon request.
Please note that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is the primary resource for up-to-date information on COVID-19. For case-specific questions, please encourage stakeholders to contact the SEVP Response Center.
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What's New on Study in the States
Visit the New SEVP Certification Page
If you are considering submitting a petition to SEVP to enroll international students, Study in the States’ new resource page, “What to Know About SEVP Certification,” has the information you need. The new page highlights important information for schools considering SEVP certification, such as the price of certification, how long it takes to become certified, if your school is eligible for certification and what your school’s responsibilities would be if you become certified. The Designated School Official page has also been updated with the most up-to-date information for school officials who are considering SEVP certification.
Check Out the SEVIS Data Mapping Tool
For regularly updated information on international student data trends, check out the SEVIS Data Mapping Tool on Study in the States. The SEVIS Data Mapping Tool is an interactive tool that illustrates information on international students in the United States using data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
The tool shows that in January 2020, California, New York and Texas were the three states that enrolled the greatest number of international students. In California, there were 184,526 Active international students, followed by New York with 137,734 Active international students and Texas with 75,845 Active international students.
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Field Representative Unit Update
Tips and Reminders for Summer Employment Authorization
Jarod Klucho is the SEVP field representative for Territory 37, serving the greater Ohio region.
As the end of the school year approaches, many students will want to work during their annual vacation period. Work authorization is very limited for nonimmigrant students and it’s important to remind students who wish to seek summer employment while in the United States that they should first consult their designated school official (DSO).
Read below for helpful tips and reminders to keep in mind when authorizing students for summer employment:
- F-1 students who are transferring or enrolling in a new program may engage in on-campus employment at the school they will be attending after the transfer release date.
- Continuing F-1 students who are participating in annual vacation are permitted to work on-campus full-time. These students may also have practical training opportunities arise. There are two types of practical training available to current students: optional practical training (OPT) and curricular practical training.
- Pre-completion OPT is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, but can be full-time during breaks and annual vacation.
For more detailed information on practical training opportunities for students, visit the Training Opportunities in the United States page on Study in the States. For more detailed information on on-and -off campus student employment, visit the Working in the United States page on Study in the States.
For case-specific questions, please contact the SEVP Response Center.
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Thank You for Completing Your Annual Verification
March 2, 2020 marked the end of the annual Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) verification period. As of that date, 96.5 percent of schools completed annual verification and a total of 47,346 school officials were verified in SEVIS.
SEVP thanks the principal designated school officials (PDSOs) and designated school officials (DSOs) who completed their annual SEVIS verification on time. If you are a PDSO or DSO who has not yet completed your school’s SEVIS verification, please contact the SEVP Response Center immediately.
SEVIS Release 6.51
SEVIS recently upgraded to Release 6.51. This release introduced a new field of entry, City of Birth (COB), for F and M students and their dependents when creating Forms I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” or updating personal information. The new COB field is not yet required, but it is encouraged that users begin inputting their information.
This release also included the following changes:
- Telephone number will be an optional field for F-2, M-2 and J-2 dependents
- U.S. Physical Address will be an optional field for F-2, M-2 and J-2 dependents
- U.S. Mailing Address will be an optional field for F-2, M-2 and J-2 dependents
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K-12 Best Practices
The kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) international student population is the fastest growing user group in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This section of SEVP Spotlight helps K-12 schools understand how to comply with federal regulations and navigate the international student life cycle.
Transferring K-12 Records to Colleges and Universities
An F-1 high school student enrolled at either a public or private school who is interested in attending college in the United States must apply to a SEVP-certified college or university. As with graduating domestic students, it is best to apply and be accepted to the college or university before the student graduates from high school.
It's important to remember that when an F-1 student is accepted to a college or university and decides to attend, their F-1 student SEVIS record must be transferred to the accepting college or university by the designated school official. For information about transferring K-12 SEVIS records, please visit Transfer for F-1 Students on ICE.gov/SEVP.
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Government Partner Update
Visit the Newly Launched SchoolSafety.gov
In February, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with several other federal government agencies, launched the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse website SchoolSafety.gov. The website is a one-stop-shop of resources for Kindergarten through Grade 12 (K-12) administrators, educators, parents and law enforcement officers to use to prepare for and address various threats related to safety, security and support in schools. Specifically, SchoolSafety.gov is a free resource to access government information, guidance, best practices and tools that make school safety initiatives more actionable in schools.
Check out the new site today to help your school increase its security preparedness, promote community readiness and enhance defensive measures.
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School Certification Unit Update
SEVP Changes the Recertification Notification Process
In response to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recommendation in its March 2019 audit of SEVP, the program has changed the timeline for the recertification notification process for schools undergoing recertification. As of March 1, any school that is certified or recertified will receive their certification expiration date (CED) notice 180 days before the CED. As before, schools will continue to receive their CED notification through an automatic Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)-generated email. Visit Study in States for more information and resources on recertification.
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SEVP is dedicated to maintaining open communication with international students and academic officials. Our offices are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, except federal holidays.
SEVP has multiple contact options:
If you need assistance with passwords or Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) technical help, email SEVISHelpDesk@ice.dhs.gov.
To report national vulnerabilities or national security concerns, contact ICE's Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit at CTCEU@ice.dhs.gov.
To report exploitation of student visa programs, contact your local HSI special agent by calling 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or visit www.ice.gov.
Disclaimer: The information presented in SEVP Spotlight is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.
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